Saturday, January 24, 2015

Author Interview - Ray White author of "Alexia's Legacy"

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1.  This book had to be a difficult one to write.  How were you able to keep focused and stay in a positive frame of mind while working on this?

I wrote this book because Alexia’s dad said his only regret was that Alexia would no longer be able to share with the world.  So I started the book to help them.  I also wanted to keep myself from getting caught up in my sadness and despair. We felt that honoring Alexia and doing something she would be proud of would be a better course than feeling sorry for myself.  The more I researched and wrote the more I got to remember and learn more about what a wonderful person she was. It turned out to be very cathartic.  Every time someone comments that they felt like they knew Alexia, it makes it all worthwhile. 

2.  Out of all of the lessons you present - can you pick two as to ones that can get people moving in a leadership role right away if implemented?

Lesson #1 – Create Leadership Habits and Lesson #50 – Create Time for Family and Friends are really good bookends that can get you started. Everything else fits comfortably in the middle.  We have included 50 lessons in the book and if you have to remember all of them, you will have a tough time just being yourself. If you create habits, then over time you become a great leader without thinking about it.  Also, the most important action you can take as a leader is to create a solid support group with your friends and family. They will be there for you when no one will listen and when you reach your highest heights. Make time for them and your example will be the keystone of your leadership. 

3.  This is your second book that you have out.  Were things easier this time around, or just as difficult as the first time?

This book was a lot easier because of all the difficult lessons I learned with the first book.  I was able to utilize all the contacts I had made with the first book and had insights into shortcuts that made everything a little easier.  I also had a co-author, Austin, who helped me research, collect info, and write. Everything is better with a partner.

4.  You had a personal relationship with Alexia in the sense that you were a mentor.  What lesson has she taught you, even though she was the mentee?

Alexia gave unconditionally. Although I know the importance of that intellectually, her authenticity was a constant inspiration for me to get better at giving more.

5.  Have the lessons that seemed to have been passed to her friends and colleagues seem to have "stuck" with them?

That was the fantastic part of writing this book.  It turned out that Alexia touched so many more people than any of us ever imagined. She never asked for or in any way wanted recognition or praise. But when we started talking to people they were all deeply touched by her in ways that truly altered their lives. One of the blessings of the book was that we were able to capture and bring to light these selected examples.  There were many more that we just didn’t have the room to include, and I am sure many we never heard about. I know that personally she has had a lasting influence on my life and the lives of my children who also knew her and learned from her.

6.  What is next on the horizon for Ray White?

We are currently do research for a book on how to create happier company cultures. We are also encouraging people to download our free Happiness App.  Search MyHappiness on Android or Apple App stores or

Friday, January 23, 2015

Introducing Richard Cummings - to his wife, to readers, and (sadly for him) Charlie

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Some heroes have secret identities.  

Some put on glasses and straighten out a curly Q in their hair and that amazingly simple disguise has fooled everyone who knows Clark Kent for over 50 years now.

Richard Cummings doesn't hide his identity, he hides his second life - from everyone except a select few people.  Richard is a "professional" at what he does - and that is being a soldier in covert operations for his Queen and the United Kingdom.  That is great news for his country - and really, really bad news for a Somali pirate whom the SAS calls "Charlie".

Charlie is a pirate with a focus on moving up the career ladder, and that usually means a lot of dead bodies of people who are in positions above him start to appear.  What should be a routine kidnapping and ransom mission soon turns into a bloody mess which creates a chance for Charlie to meet the acquaintances of Richard Cummings.  Charlie's first impression that he gives Richard is not a good one and is not going to leave a lasting impression......


Invictus - Part One - Introducing Richard is a fast paced, well written short book.  What I really like about the author doing his book this way is that you get to meet the main character - Richard Cummings - and learn all about what makes him tick in a book that has enough action to keep the reader satisfied, but at the same time keeps the focus on Richard.

I am sure the author has many more books coming down the pipe that will involve Richard Cummings.  The great part about those books should be that Andrew J Wilson should be able to devote much of the subsequent books to the plot, because his character has already been built up.

The more I think about it, the more genius I think this approach is.  Wilson doesn't lose his character development in a super complex plot that tries to impress the reader.  In future books, the readers will also already know the character and can just enjoy the ride that Wilson takes them on.

(This review is my honest appraisal of the book.  The author has paid for an advertising package that gave him "head of the line" privileges to have the book reviewed more quickly instead of waiting months.  This does not influence the review given in any manner.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

The stars just are lined up for the end of the world in "Misaligned"

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While some people were watching Discovery Channel documentaries about Mayan calendars and planets aligning, others were out saving the destruction of the world from two alien races while dodging the CIA and the Illuminati.

Little did we know as we were watching the clock count down to doomsday, an unlikely pair would show up to try and save the day.  Travis Carter, a computer engineer (aka - hacker), and Tori, a high level Spiritual Leader for the Illuminati, meet quite by accident.  Fortuitous for the entire human race, they get along well enough to kill bad guys instead of each other.

Now we have the good guys, the many bad guys, and countdown to destruction set, I don't want to give too much away to cause a spoiler.  However, the fact that I am still on this planet to be typing this should give you some kind of indication of how things turned out.


"Misaligned" by Rodney L. Carlson is a short book that tries to tackle a large plot.  The idea of the plot was good, but there were certain points in the book that I couldn't suspend my disbelief.  I realize that is a requirement when reading fiction, but when a member of your "team" vanishes for days and the other members just kind of shrug their shoulders and give each other language lessons - I had a hard time picturing that really being the reaction most would have.

The book had many chapters, but some were literally only one page long on my Kindle, and the next chapter dealt with the same characters, setting, and time line.  This gave this book a kind of "disjointed" feel.

Overall, the story was a good short read.  If you are looking for something that you can devour in a day that is going to entertain you, then this book might be something to consider.

Interview with Gregory Lloyd - author of "The Sword of Agrippa: Antioch"

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1.  I saw something that this story came to you from dreams that you were having.  Can you elaborate on this?  Is it something you consciously tried to do first or did it just happen?  I am very interested in this!
More than ten years ago I started having very vivid dreams, starting with ancient battles in woods.  Some were quite painful to watch and others exhilarating.  Over time I would see a broader mix of activities, like: caravans of camels passing through an old city, packed with fabrics and spices; temples being built; and long marches.  

I started researching Roman history and lucid dreaming to find meaning to these powerful dreams, some of which would wake me up in the middle of the night.  As I studied ancient Alexandria the dreams became even more powerful, especially after I discovered a work of fiction set there.

2.  How much research did you have to do for the background and plot lines for Sword of Agrippa: Antioch?

Most of the scenes came from dream states. I found two biographies that were interesting, but not conclusive.  I was looking for historical evidence at first that Agrippa had not been to places I had dreamed about.  I did not find anything conclusive regarding his visit as a young teen to Alexandria for example.  But I thought it made for an interesting premise.  Same with his understanding of advanced naval ship design, warfare, etc.  I read through a few books, nothing anyone would consider rigorous.

3.  So you have scientists on one side, religion on the other, and people getting squeezed in between - where do you see yourself falling?

I would love to live in a world where science and spirituality are both compatible and respected.

4.  I saw that you had a Kickstarter campaign for this book.  Obviously it went well enough for you to finish it.  Is that an avenue you would recommend to other authors, especially indie or self published authors?

Absolutely.  It gave me certain advantages in finding an audience and raising funds for editorial support.

5.  Which character in your book can you most relate with in real life?  Which one would you love to sit down for lunch and a conversation?

Agrippa.  I developed a deeper respect for his accomplishments as I researched.

6.  What do you know now that you wish you knew before you wrote your first book?  What advice would you have given yourself? 

Start on promotion after the first book is complete, versus trying to build an audience chapter by chapter. I think it is much harder for a multi-genre to build by chapter...than say a straight fantasy or sci fi.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Legacy of Leadership

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Alexia's Legacy by Ray White is a short book written about leadership tips that were gleaned from an amazing young woman who may have had a shorter life than everyone wanted, but lived that life in a large way.

Having worked with children for a good portion of my life, there are some that you see and know that they just "get it".  They are "put together" so well that many adults could stand to learn a few lessons from them.  Alexia seems to have been that type of person.

The 50 tips are things that many of us have heard, but rarely practice. A refresher on servant leadership is not a bad thing at all.  To quote Zig Ziglar, "People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Well, neither does bathing.  That's why we recommend it daily."

Take one tip a day and try to put it into practice - and you have 50 motivation & leadership "baths" covered.  Need help in seeing how it is all put into practice?  The author's close relationship as Alexia's mentor allows him to share examples and emails that highlight each tip.  A few of the tips are also illustrated by memoirs of her friends, providing touching moments throughout.

I have gone through the pain of losing a younger sibling much too soon.  I can empathize with the loss that everyone must have felt at the time of Alexia's loss.  White does an excellent job of not only memorializing Alexia throughout this book, but allowing everyone to attempt continue the great lessons that she was just beginning to put into practice.

One aspect of the book that was a little difficult to overlook was the frequent repetition of many of the same topics in the emails that were provided.  While I understand that they were not intended to wind up in a book like this and were written in a very personal style, it did occasionally become a distraction.

(This book review is part of a paid ad that only allowed the author "front of the line" privileges and in no way impacts the review that is written.  This reviewer did purchase the book himself, however, as he was impressed by the material and the cause.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sharpen your blade for a mystery spanning lifetimes in The Sword of Agrippa: Antioch

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As humans, we like to think that we are in control of things and that our knowledge puts us at the top of the evolutionary pyramid.  But how much do we really know?  If you consider just our senses - there are many examples showing that we are inferior to most other creatures.  That leaves us with the ability to reason as one of the things that sets us apart.  And because of this, the science industry is trying desperately to sell the idea that we now know everything there is to know.

Anything that can't be explained by science is tackled by the religious establishment, who have their own reasons for wanting things to stay the same.  Don't think that by wrapping themselves in the blanket of religion, that they are going to be understanding of those (especially scientists) who make new and profound discoveries.  Look up Giordano Bruno and see how the church dealt with scientists who may have held a view differing from theirs.

In between the establishments of science and religion, there is an area where a person can feel the walls of both moving together with them in the middle - and this is exactly where Roy Swenson is.  Roy is on to something - something big.  Something that will shake the establishments down to their core.  Dark energy.  Energy that will change the world.  Energy that powerful will surely draw some attention.

What Roy doesn't know is that he has been chasing this dream not just his whole life, but for lifetimes spanning the past 2,000 plus years.  As a Roman engineer named Agrippa.  Some of this is starting to come back to Roy, but things are still a little hazy.  Roy finds that there are many people who are willing to help him that have been with him through lifetimes, but also just as many who have gone out of their way to stifle his search for just as long.


The Swords of Agrippa: Antioch is an book with quite an ambitious plot.  The size of the plot is much too broad for one book to contain it, unless you want something on the scale of Stephen King or George R. R. Martin.  I believe that Lloyd has a great concept for an excellent series.  I would like to see more character development, as it is hard to connect with them since the time of the book setting shifts from 2025 to the times of the pharaohs.  I knew from the plot concept and the size of the book that everything wasn't going to be wrapped up nice and tight with a bow on it at the end, but the author already has book two started, so the wait won't be long.

The only other observation about the book is that, other than the abstract "people" who aren't going to like the path that Roy Swenson is headed with his experiments, we never really quite get to know the actual "danger" that he is facing.  I am hoping this side of the story gets told in book two.  

I can easily see this being at least a four or five book series - and one that, when finished, could be truly noteworthy.

(This review is part of a paid ad that only allowed the book to move to the head of the line on the wait list.  This in no way has any bearing on the review.)